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How to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Class

I don’t go to yoga as frequently as I would like to, so I try to make every session count. I am a beginner, so I am often shy or feel out of place in class. I’ve come to realize, though, that—especially since my urge to go to yoga is spontaneous and unfortunately infrequent—I should maximize every class session I have. Make your yoga class work for you—instead of you working for the class!

Once I arrive at my favorite studio, I’m excited for my yoga class right away. I choose a spot, set my mat down, and stretch out or meditate until class starts. I take these few moments to prepare myself for the class.

First, I take full advantage of my instructor’s vast knowledge on the graceful movements of yoga poses. Tell your yoga instructor of any body conditions that prevent you from doing certain yoga poses. If you have osteoporosis of low bone mass, this includes any pose with forward flexion (rounding your back) or twisting. There are ways to modify all poses so that you don’t risk injury.

In my yoga studio, the instructors rotate, so I rarely have the same instructor twice in one month. This can be good and bad. It is nice because it spices class up every time I go—a new voice, a new music playlist, a new routine of poses, and another instructor that can give me insightful advice. However, sometimes these irregularities can be unfavorable. Some instructors don’t walk around as often to adjust your alignment or encourage using a block to maintain good (and safe) form.

So don’t slack off in telling new instructors about your level of expertise or injuries. While class may be silent, speak up! Know your limits and don’t be afraid to modify poses. Your body is still getting a great benefit from practice.

Personally, I enjoy any modifications that involve simple back bending because not only does it feel great, but it can help prevent poor posture and kyphosis (curvature of the upper spine). This is one of my biggest fears as I battle with slouching during class lectures everyday. I am becoming more aware of my posture, and whenever I feel myself curling in, I take a deep yoga breath and pull my shoulders together and hold.

Namaste.

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